So last night I watched the film Bridesmaids (for the second time), despite not thinking very much of it the first time round, and I realised why it is that I take issue with ‘rom-coms’. It’s not just the “over the next 90 minutes I’m going to show you how all your problems can be solved by my penis” aspect (family guy reference), it’s the fact that the female protagonist is almost always a quirky, neurotic, emotional mess (whose problems can all be solved by finding her ‘prince charming’ or ‘knight in shining armour’ or ‘soul mate’) *cue gagging noises*. Granted perhaps Bridesmaids isn’t so much about that, but it does sort of seem like her police officer love interest (very subtle hollywood) does metaphorically ‘save her’. Herein lies the problem. She doesn’t need him to save her. She shouldn’t need him to save her. Hollywood should not be telling us that we need men to ‘save us’. In fact, the only part of the film I enjoyed was when Melissa McCarthy’s character physically knocked (or slapped) some sense into Annie (female lead) by telling her to stop feeling sorry for herself and take responsibility for her own life and her own actions. Overall though I think the film tries to hard to be funny through the use of ‘silly’ or ‘juvenile’ humour in order to distance itself from the usual ‘soppy rom-com’ standard.
Earlier in the evening I’d watched ‘Over her dead body’, arguably an awful film starring Paul Rudd and Eva Longoria. Is it that awful though? It falls under the ‘rom-com’ category but it incorporates notions of an afterlife, unrequited love and mysticism. Already the film has broken away from the traditional ‘boy meets girl’ or ‘girl meets boy’; what you actually have is ‘boy meets girl in order to contact dead wife’. Perhaps as someone who considers themselves to be somewhat spiritual this type of ‘rom-com’ simply was more appealing to me due to its themes. However, what I think I realised is that I can enjoy a romantic comedy if there is an element of originality to it. Take ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’ for instance, rather than a female neurotic quirky emotional wreck, you have Steve Carell, a devoted husband whose wife admits to having an affair and then proceeds to ask him for a divorce. Understandably, Carell is heartbroken and ultimately becomes the ’emotional mess’ we know all too well of female leads in such films. Cue Ryan Gosling to save the day, but again, rather than saving a quirky female (although annoyingly he does do this later), his main focus is to help Steve Carell get back on his feet and to instil confidence in him so that he can move on. Add to that Carell’s hilarious antics and what you get is a refreshing take on a romantic comedy. However, unfortunately the film has a sub plot in which Ryan Gosling meets a girl (quirky/goofy Emma Stone) and so the classic ‘boy meets girl’ template still exists within the film somewhat taking away from its overall originality in my opinion.
I don’t really have a conclusion for this blog post but I shall attempt one.
Romantic comedies with original (i.e. challenges the norm) story lines = good (ish) – I’m still not really a fan of the genre.
Romantic comedies that adhere to the typical storyline in which the lead’s (usually female) life will be improved by finding/being able to be with their soul mate = inane dribble that most likely kills brain cells and may induce gagging (not to mention most likely perpetuates negative/sexist stereotypes).
But hey, what do I know, I’m probably just a cynic.